Sunday, January 8, 2017

Wittgenstein's Props; or, In the Green Valley of Silliness

I keep laughing out loud, reading Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir by Norman Malcolm (OUP, 1958, second ed., 1984), on the recommendation of blogger Michael.

Not that W is funny * ––he's mostly either thinking, or depressed. "It was always a strain to be with Wittgenstein," Malcolm says. 
And his rooms "were austerely furnished …[and] always scrupulously clean. There was no easy chair or reading lamp. The walls were bare."

But Malcolm does report some mundanities in W's life that are Monty Pythonesque in their juxtaposition with this austerity.
It occurred to me I could easily find pictures of some things like W's things, from the movies.

1. Wittgenstein liked movies.
"He insisted on sitting in the very first row of seats, so that the screen would occupy his entire field of vision, and his mind would be turned away from the thoughts of the lecture and his feelins of revulsion. …He was fond of the film stars Carmen Miranda and Betty Hutton." (p. 26)

2. Wittgenstein "presented my wife with a dish mop, as an improvement on a dishcloth." (p. 40)

[I couldn't find a workable image from the movie, but this ^ is inspired by Joy (2015), starring Jennifer Lawrence as the inventor of the Miracle Mop, sold on QVC.]

3. "It was impossible for him to think when he heard the piano. He obtained a large second-hand fan which produced a uniform noise in sufficient volume to drown the piano." (p. 54)

Singing in the Rain, (1952) ^ Gene Kelly sets up a sound stage to sing "You Were Meant for Me" to Debbie Reynolds

4. My favorite: "In his rooms at Trinity, he kept a small potted flowering plant." (p. 52)

Hot Fuzz (2007), Simon Pegg and his peace lily^

* Here's Michael's bit of Wittgensteinian silliness: 
"A Meeting with Ludwig Wittgenstein"

 Did  a little digging, and it seems W approved of silliness. Note from Wittgenstein on Thought and Will, by Roger Teichmann:


Bink said...

Appropriately and charmingly silly images. ��

Fresca said...

Thanks, bink! It was fun putting them together---a nice break from trying to make sense of words...

ArtSparker said...

Looks quite a bit like Michael Palin...coincidence?

Frex said...

I don't know. Wittgenstein was from Vienna, Austria, and 3/4 of Jewish descent. A quick search on Palin--seems his family is English & Irish from way back.
They look less alike in profile.

Frex said...

P.S. SPARKER: I'd suggest reincarnation but their lives overlap for eight years.

Michael Leddy said...

These are hilarious.

By the way, I watched Whistle and I’ll Come to You — so good! I had no idea what it would be. The prof is pretty clearly an ordinary-language philosopher — all the breakfast talk about what we say and don’t say.

Frex said...

MICHAEL: Well, that book has pretty hilarious material, as you know. :)

Glad you liked Whistle! Wittgenstein would have hated that prof, eh? The sort of academic pedant he railed against.